Trade and Immigration, 1870-2010
NBER Working Paper No. 25010
In this chapter, we describe long-run trends in global merchandise trade and immigration from 1870 to 2010. We revisit the reasons why these two forces moved largely in parallel in the decades leading up to World War I, collapsed during the interwar period, and then rebounded (but with much more pronounced growth in trade than in immigration). More substantively, we also document a large redistribution in the regional sources of goods and people with a shift from the former industrialized core countries—especially Europe—to those in the former periphery—especially Asia—as well as a very striking change in the composition of merchandise trade towards manufactured goods precisely dating from 1950. Finally, using a triple differences framework in combination with a dramatic change in US immigration policy, we find evidence that immigration and trade potentially acted as substitutes, at least for the United States in the interwar period.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25010